Before we acknowledge the impending season of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, earth-toned cableknit sweaters, and fresh day planners, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on what our summers were like. As you’re taking in all of the golden-hued nostalgia, what song is playing in your head? Or, better yet, what song best defines your summer? The choice can be hard but whatever you choose is arguably deeply personal. Now what about the songs that define each and every summer?
We’re starting up a new segment here at Much where our staff share their hot takes of the week, where the topics will vary and the opinions will be juicy. What better way to kick off this segment than sharing what we think are forever summer songs. In other words, we think the following are some arguably classic tracks that best represent and encapsulate this sun-kissed season.
The Song of the Summer is debated every year, and every year since I first heard “Summer Girls” by LFO, I have yet to comprehend why it’s even a competition. The obscure lyrics, the upbeat sound—everything about this song is perfect. The fact that the platinum-certified song is essentially just a list of inside jokes and ’80s/’90s cultural references speaks to the summertime feelings of nostalgia, friendship, and not thinking about whatever comes next. The perfect way to look back on a summer fling, or just a summer spent with friends. — Meghan
If “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas doesn’t immediately start playing in your head every time someone utters a variation of the phrase “man, it’s a hot one,” you’re either lying or have been deprived of one of the greatest summer songs of our generation. It’s got Santana’s unmistakable guitar riffs, the surprisingly poetic lyric “Well, and it’s just like the ocean under the moon / Oh, it’s the same as the emotion that I get from you,” and a voice that, at one point in time, catapulted Matchbox Twenty to semi-stardom. Plus, it’s endlessly memeable. — Sara
I Wanna Dance is not just a forever summer song, it’s a forever Pride song, and Pride = summer for me. During Pride season, this song will play during every parade, dance party, barbecue, and I will never complain about it. Also, is it really summer if you don’t spend it trying to dance with somebody (who loves you)? — Rachel
We don’t choose the Song of the Summer—the Song of the Summer chooses us. Magic’s “Rude” is a perfect example of this, not because this song doesn’t slap (it does), but because no one would have chosen to bestow the ever-coveted title of Song of the Summer to this scrappy reggae-fusion band from Canada.”Rude” defied logic and reason—spending six weeks at No. 1, whether you loved or hated this song, you couldn’t escape it that fateful summer of 2014. Cheering for this underdog of a track made me feel like the protagonist of the song: just a dude in a leather jacket who woke up wanting to get married, got rejected by her father, and eloped anyway. While the narrative may not be universal, being reckless, being in love, and doing whatever the hell you want will eternally be a summer mood. — Celina
This one-hit wonder is a truly sensational summer track. If you don’t catch yourself bopping your head along to this song, then quite frankly I wonder what’s going on in your skull. The spaceship revving synths, the reverb on the Andrea True Connection’s “More, More, More” short sample, the breezy tambourine riff coupled with the airy backing vocals for “if you steal my sunshine,” all gloriously come together to make for a quintessential ’90s summer bop that is still relevant every passing summer. — Alex